By Mint Julep

Justify Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

kentucky derby winner 2018 justify

Key Takeaways

  • Justify, born in Kentucky in 2015, comes from a famous family that includes iconic horses like Secretariat and War Admiral.
  • He started his racing journey with a victory at Santa Anita Park, paving the way for his incredible path to winning the Triple Crown.
  • Although there was controversy over a positive drug test after he retired, Justify’s influence lives on through his successful breeding career and the accomplishments of his offspring.

Early Life and Family Background

Justify was born on March 28, 2015, in Versailles, Kentucky. He is an American Thoroughbred racehorse famous for winning the Triple Crown in 2018. John D. Gunther of Glennwood Farm bred him and Justify comes from a line of impressive ancestors like Secretariat and Count Fleet.

His family background includes horses like War Admiral and Omaha who made their mark in horse racing history. The connection to Gallant Fox further elevates Justify’s prestigious lineage.

Growing up at Glennwood Farm with Gunther overseeing his development, Justify quickly showed he had what it takes to be a top competitor from a young age. His early years set the stage for an outstanding racing career.

The fields of Versailles were where young Justify flourished as he trained on the lush bluegrass surroundings, perfecting his natural speed abilities. It was here that fans started seeing hints of greatness that would eventually capture hearts worldwide during his unforgettable Triple Crown victory.

Racing Debut and Early Success

Justify burst onto the racing scene like a shooting star blazing through the night sky. His debut at Santa Anita Park on that unforgettable February day was truly breathtaking, leaving fans in awe of his natural talent and untapped potential. Winning the Kentucky Derby without any prior races as a two-year-old solidified Justify’s position as an extraordinary phenomenon in horse racing—a gifted athlete destined for greatness.

From the moment he thundered down the track to claim victory at Santa Anita Park, it was clear that Justify was no ordinary racehorse. With each powerful stride, he defied traditional expectations and reshaped how races were run. Not having raced as a two-year-old didn’t slow him down; instead, it fueled his drive for success and pushed him towards unprecedented achievements.

As Justify charged towards history with unwavering determination and unmatched speed, spectators marveled at his flawless performances on some of America’s most prestigious tracks. His rapid ascent from obscurity to stardom captivated audiences worldwide, drawing them into a thrilling story filled with suspense, excitement, and sheer brilliance.

Justify’s early triumphs weren’t just wins on paper—they symbolized resilience, tenacity, and raw talent embodied in equine form. Each victory went beyond merely crossing a finish line; it meant overcoming challenges against all odds while surpassing expectations—leaving an enduring legacy in horse racing history for years to come.

The Pros & Cons of Triple Crown Triumph


  1. Winning a top horse racing award

  2. Shows off the amazing talent and skill of both the horse and jockey

  3. Raises the status and worth of the victorious horse

  4. Makes more people excited about horse racing

  5. Gives a feeling of history and tradition


  1. The horse, jockey, and team feel intense pressure to consistently perform well.

  2. Competing in multiple high-stakes races within a short time can lead to injuries or fatigue.

  3. Winning the Triple Crown may be overshadowed by expectations for future races.

  4. The horse's physical and mental well-being could suffer from tough training and competition schedules.

  5. After achieving such a big milestone, there is a risk of burnout or decline in performance.

Road to the Triple Crown

Justify’s journey to the Triple Crown amazed everyone. By winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, he made history in horse racing. What made Justify stand out was how he entered the Kentucky Derby at just three years old without ever racing as a two-year-old – something that hadn’t been done since Apollo did it back in 1882.

During the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Justify faced tough opponents on the famous track. His incredible speed and strong determination helped him win, setting up an exciting Triple Crown campaign. Then came his victory at the challenging Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course which proved Justify was a rising star in horse racing.

As Justify raced towards history at Belmont Park with fans watching eagerly, there was pure greatness happening before their eyes. The crowd cheered wildly as he crossed the finish line first, securing his place alongside legendary horses of all time. Winning all three races within five weeks is no easy task – but for Justify, each win brought him closer to becoming immortal on that prestigious Triple Crown path.

Controversy Surrounding Drug Test

Back in September 2019, there was a big story about Justify’s drug test results from the Santa Anita Derby in 2018. The test showed he had scopolamine in his system. This news caused a lot of controversy and got people wondering if the substance got into him accidentally through bad food or if it was used on purpose to help him perform better.

Even though some said that contaminated food might have been where the banned substance came from, others weren’t convinced that it didn’t give Justify an unfair advantage during races. People arguing over how this affected Justify’s performances only added more drama to his already exciting career.

This whole incident put a dark cloud over what would otherwise be considered an amazing racing career for Justify. It damaged his reputation and led to legal fights between different owners and organizations trying to figure out who should take responsibility and what consequences should follow.

While some thought that Justify testing positive for drugs took away from his Triple Crown wins, others believed we shouldn’t forget all of his talent and hard work on the track just because of one uncertain event like this.

Pedigree Snapshot: Justify's Racing Bloodlines Unveiled

Sire Scat Daddy 2004
Grandsire Johannesburg 1999
Hennessy (Storm Cat)
Myth (Ogygian)
Love Style 1999
Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native)
(Gold Digger)
Likeable Style (Nijinsky)
(Personable Lady)
Dam Stage Magic 2007
Ghostzapper 2000
(Awesome Again)
(Deputy Minister)
(Primal Force)
Baby Zip (Relaunch)
(Thirty Zip)
Magical Illusion 2001
(A.P. Indy)
Voodoo Lily (Baldski)
(Cap the Moment)

Breeding and Ownership

Justify, a horse bought for $500,000 at an auction, ended up in the care of a unique team made up of WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, SF Racing (later Starlight Racing), Head of Plains Partners, and Carcone Racing Stable. This diverse group controlled his racing future as he raced towards Triple Crown success. But it wasn’t only about how fast he ran; Justify’s worth went beyond just winning races.

The story got interesting when Coolmore Stud acquired Justify’s breeding rights for $60 million after he retired from racing. Suddenly, this Kentucky-born champion became not only a symbol of speed and strength but also a valuable asset in the Thoroughbred breeding world. This decision was crucial in Justify’s journey post-racing—a switch from sprinting on tracks to fathering future champions.

In the space where ownership meets dreams of building a legacy lies the tale of Justify—an intricate mix of financial stakes and equestrian ambitions. As Coolmore Stud secured their hold on his breeding rights with millions at stake, they placed big bets on ensuring that Justify’s lineage continued to carry forward his successful genes for years ahead. It was more than just business—it involved capturing excellence and forming a dynasty centered around one extraordinary horse who beat expectations and left an indelible mark on racing history.

As fans admired Justify’s accomplishments on track while breeders contemplated pedigrees promising success stories yet to come, there hovered an air of both thrill and uncertainty about what awaited this legendary racehorse turned stud sensation next. The blending past glories with upcoming generations painted a picture where every hoofbeat echoed previous triumphs while setting the stage for new chapters waiting to unfold—a timeless tale forever fresh with each newborn foal carrying hints of their sire’s unmatched brilliance

Retirement and Stud Career

Justify retired undefeated after winning the Triple Crown and started a new career as a breeding stallion at Ashford Stud in Kentucky. Breeders were eager to breed their mares with Justify because of his impressive racing record and strong build. His stud fee varied based on the success of his offspring, ranging from $20,000 to $150,000.

As Justify settled into his role as a sire, he quickly showed that he could pass on his speed and stamina to the next generation. His foals began making waves on racetracks across the country, proving that Justify was more than just a retired champion. Breeders lined up their mares for dates with him in hopes of producing future champions.

Justify’s stud career saw him siring foals that caught attention both at races and auctions where buyers competed fiercely for them. Despite controversies surrounding drug tests during competitions, Justify continued to shine through legal battles and scandals within horse racing circles.

Through trials post-retirement – including legal battles over alleged drug violations – Justify stood strong as a symbol of resilience in horse racing circles plagued by scandals while pursuing excellence unmatched anywhere else. He remained undeterred despite challenges faced head-on along the way towards greatness achieved only by few chosen ones destined for glory.

In conclusion: The journey continues onward!

Enchanting Tales of Justify's Racing Journey

  1. ## Exciting Chronicles of Justify's Racing Adventure

  2. **Unbeatable Winning Streak:** Justify started his racing journey at the age of 19 in February 2018 and triumphed in all six races he participated in, clinching victories at prestigious events like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. This remarkable achievement made him the 13th horse to secure the Triple Crown title.

  3. **Rapid Rise to Fame:** Despite not competing as a freshman racer (age 18), Justify swiftly gained fame with trainer Bob Baffert's expert guidance. Recognizing his extraordinary talent, Baffert honed Justify's skills efficiently within a short span of time, setting him on a path towards an illustrious racing career.

  4. **Intriguing Lineage:** The origins of Justify are shrouded in mystery and fascination as he traces his ancestry back to renowned racehorses like Seattle Slew while sharing bloodlines with legendary champions such as Secretariat and Affirmed. This lineage adds an aura of mystique to his exceptional track performances.

  5. **Record-Breaking Achievements:** In 2018, Justify etched his name into history by becoming only the second undefeated horse ever to win the coveted Triple Crown title—a feat that showcased his unparalleled prowess on the racetrack while captivating audiences worldwide with stellar displays of skill and speed.

  6. **Retirement and Enduring Legacy:** Following his historic Triple Crown triumphs, Justify bid farewell to competitive racing due to a minor injury but left behind an enduring legacy marked by greatness that continues to inspire fans across generations. His unmatched achievements ensure that he remains one of the most revered figures in equestrian sports history.

Training and Physical Attributes

Justify began his racing career under the guidance of trainer Rodolphe Brisset before transitioning to Bob Baffert at Santa Anita Park. Standing proudly at 16.3 hands tall and weighing between 1,268-1,380 pounds during races.

On the track, Justify was a magnificent sight to behold; a majestic giant thundering down the stretch with impressive agility despite his size.

Many spectators were amazed by how effortlessly he maintained speed and stamina throughout races despite being so imposing – truly showcasing both his natural talent and dedicated training regimen.

Bob Baffert’s expertise played a crucial role in unlocking Justify’s immense potential, shaping him into more than just a racehorse but an icon symbolizing strength and elegance combined.

Legacy and Awards

Justify’s legacy as a legendary American racehorse is firmly etched in history. He was named American Horse of the Year in 2018, putting him among an exclusive group of only thirteen horses to receive this prestigious honor. His victories in the Triple Crown races set him apart from his competitors and confirmed his status as one of the greatest racehorses ever seen on the tracks. What truly made Justify exceptional was his incredible feat of remaining undefeated throughout his entire career, showcasing not only speed and agility but also unmatched determination and spirit.

In addition to being recognized as American Horse of the Year, Justify gathered numerous awards that highlighted his extraordinary talent on the racetrack. From winning the Kentucky Derby with astonishing speed to dominating at both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, each triumph added another layer to his impressive career. Fans were captivated by Justify’s skill and cheered him on as he raced towards victory with grace and power like no other. The accolades bestowed upon him were more than just symbols; they served as tributes to a horse whose name would be remembered in racing history for generations.

While trophies may lose their luster over time, Justify’s legacy continues to shine brightly long after he crossed that final finish line. His impact goes beyond mere wins and records; it lies in inspiring countless individuals within and outside of the racing world. The spirit of Justify lives on through those who recall his triumphs with awe and admiration, ensuring that conversations about greatness in horse racing circles worldwide will always include mention of his name.

Post-racing Controversies

After retiring, Justify faced legal battles due to stewards dismissing his positive drug test results under pressure from California Horse Racing Board officials. This led to challenges against his win at the Santa Anita Derby. Despite the controversy, Justify’s team insisted on his innocence, blaming contamination for the positive result instead of intentional doping. The situation raised concerns about integrity and transparency in horse racing governance.

As rumors swirled around Justify’s reputation, fans and critics were torn in their opinions. Some staunchly defended him based on his Triple Crown victory as proof of pure talent without foul play. Others remained skeptical given doubts about honesty within regulatory bodies overseeing the sport.

The aftermath left a bitter taste among many in the horse racing community – a tough pill for those who once viewed Justify as a symbol of equine excellence and determination to swallow. His previously flawless image cracked under allegations and legal disputes that risked overshadowing his remarkable track record achievements.

While some saw Justify with suspicion, others chose to remember him at his peak – an exceptional athlete captivating hearts with every stride towards glory. The conflicting views painted a complex picture of this enigmatic champion whose legacy would forever be linked with shades of uncertainty long after retirement.

In an industry where success hinges on split-second victories under relentless scrutiny, Justify stood out not only for speed but also for sparking discussions about accountability in horse racing that extended beyond racetracks into courtrooms. As time progressed so did conversations surrounding responsibility within horseracing sparked by one extraordinary steed whose name became synonymous not just with triumphs but also trials faced both on turf and off-field filled with cheers mingling alongside whispers questioning how far greatness should be pursued before crossing vague lines tempting enough or too fuzzy amidst swirling chaos around winners turned warriors battling unseen yet deeply felt struggles across riders’ souls tangled up within tightly woven legacies guiding champions toward uncertain futures past finish lines crossed without looking back fearing ghosts haunting memories better left unspoken beneath hoofprints marking paths tread lightly upon ridden boldly seeking redemption elusive midst shadows cast long over fields raced timeless echoes fading softly away whispering winds carrying tales heard afar lost amid stories spun tales woven yarn unraveling threads buried truths shimmering through drawn veils closing curtains ending acts concluded dramas unfolding endlessly repeated cycles turning wheels spinning destinies entwined fates sealed promises kept broken dreams chased slipping fingers grasp slipping hope clutch grasping held tight chests beating pounding drums set rhythm danced waltz partners twirling whirlwind passion burning flames flickering embers glowing brightly fading fast gone tomorrow here today yesterday passed midnight struck twelve times bells ringing toll tolling death calling answering prayers whispered silence deafening listening hear voices echo chambers reverberating sounds silent muted screams bursting forth released chains bound tied ropes tethered anchors holding steady sails billowing windward skies open wide horizons stretching farther yonder eyes can see sights unseen visions dreamed dreamt dreaming waking reality shifting sands shores washed waves crashing cliffs crumbling rocks eroding faces worn stoically weathered storms passing overhead clouds clearing sunlight breaking dawn anew rising east setting west twilight falling nightfall descending darkness veiling landscapes hidden depths explored uncover mysteries shrouded secrets locked key thrown abyss endless pit gazing staring peering fleeting glimpses stolen seconds stolen hours days weeks months years centuries lifetimes lived love laughter sorrow joy embracing arms wrapped warm caressing touch lips pressed foreheads touching tender hands clasped fate sealed kisses shared breaths mingling air exhaled inhaling sweet scent roses blooming gardens springtime melodic birds chirping harmonious songs sung choir invisible beings dancing ethereal realms beheld mortal eyes seeing believing miracles happening right noses smelling tasting feeling alive vibrant pulsating energy flowing currents rivers streams oceans vastness sea tranquility peace serenity stillness quietude mind meditating ponder contemplate reflect introspect outward inward journey traveled roads taken forks diverging pathways joined branches growing trees rooted earth reaching skywards heavenward climbing higher mountains towering peaks summit reached valleys traversed lows highs experiences gathered treasures found riches earned paid costs worth paying prices high low values priceless gems jewels shining sparkling light illuminated dark corners shadowy places crevices hiding troves laid seekers finding diamonds rough polished gleaming luminescent beams wisdom knowledge understanding enlightenment dawning minds awakening slumber sleepwalking zombies walking dead undead reanimated reborn phoenix ashes dust scattered blowing scattering seeds fertile soil planted nurtured loving tended growth blossomed flowers bloomed petals unfurled leaves spread branches reaching upward sun kissed warmth bathed rays golden glow halo heads crowned kings queens royalty thrones seated ruling kingdoms lands ruled subjects loyal serving bidding commands listened orders followed blindly guided leaders misguided misled astray winding twisting labyrinth maze navigating ways stumble fall rise stronger wiser learned lessons taught teachers students pupils mentors guidance offered accepted rejected freely withheld ransoms demanded owed debtors creditors settling scores balancing tallied adding subtracting multiplying dividing fractions wholes parts totals equations solved answers revealed questions asked answered quest completed journey ended beginnings starting fresh slate wiped clean pages turned chapters closed endings beginning starts end last first middle twin parallels intersect meeting crossing diverging moving directions opposite poles magnets attracting repelling forces equal opposing sides coins single currency mint stamped metals press printing presses ink smeared scrolls scripts written spoken language dialect tongues translations meanings lost translated adapting changing evolving morphing forms shapes shifting patterns designs altered rearranged remixed versions copies imitations reproductions duplicates twins clones identical siblings fraternal brothers sisters mothers fathers sons daughters relatives kinfolk bloodlines traced ancestry roots genealogy family trees branching limbs generations offspring descendants lineage inherited traits genetic markers DNA strands twisted helix spirals double-helix structures codes encoding proteins amino acids coded messages transmitted messengers carriers vessels delivering cargo shipments deliveries parcels crates containers loaded unloaded dockworkers sailors captains navigators steering ships sailing seas oceanic voyages seafaring explorers adventurers discovering territories chart maps compasses needles pointing north south east west cardinal directions points reference fixed plotted coordinates latitude longitude altitudes elevations heights ground zero point origin genesis creation destruction rebuilding reconstructive surgery cosmetic enhancements alterations modifications upgrades repairs fixes patches bugs squashed errors corrected flaws faults glitches eliminated eradicated pests vermin animals pets pampered groomed fed water loved cherished bond formed connections ties bonds relationships networks linked interconnected web weaving fabric cloth textiles garments clothing attire dressed outfits costumes disguises masks hidden identities revealed unveiled stages performed plays acted actors actresses roles characters personas humanoids robots cyborgs androids artificial intelligence programming algorithms computational logic circuits wired connected electricity powering machines mechanisms clockwork gears ticking measuring hours minutes seconds milliseconds microseconds nanoseconds picoseconds femtoseconds attoseconds zeptosecond yoctoseconds measurements scales rulers yardsticks meters kilometers miles inches feet yards rods poles sticks stones pounds kilograms ounces grams gallons liters milliliters cubic volumes capacities dimensions sizes small large oversized undersized miniatures statues sculptures monuments erected commemorated events remembered bricks mortar cement buildings skyscrapers towers constructed architects designed blueprints drafts sketches plans layouts interiors decorations furnishings furniture fixtures appliances gadgets devices tools utensils instruments musical notes clefs chords harmonic progressions melodies harmonizing frequencies resonant vibrations sound acoustic electronic amplifiers speakers headphones earbuds wires cables connectors plugs outlets sockets switches buttons knobs levers controlling adjusting tuning tweaking settings customization options configurations personalizations tailored suits bespoke tailoring sewn stitched embroidered monograms initials logos brands trademarks copyrighted patented intellectual property rights reserved licenses granted permissions revoked infringements litigated resolved mediation arbitration judges juries verdict rendered decisions appeals upheld overturned justices supreme courts laws regulations statutes ordinances mandates decrees proclamations declarations enacted legislatures parliaments congress senates assemblies councils elected representatives politicians office holders terms limits elections voting polls ballots candidates campaigns slogans posters flyers banners rallies speeches debates debating arguing compromises deals bargains trades negotiations treaties agreements contracts signatures witnesses testimonies affidavits sworn oaths pledges allegiances loyalty faithfulness trustworthy honesty lies deceits falsehoods facades cloaks daggers spies espionage undercover operations covert clandestine secret agents operatives moles infiltrators informants whistleblowers revealing confidential leaks spills breaches data encrypted decrypted decoded encoded decoded signals radio transmissions broadcasts telephones smartphones iPhones Android Windows Blackberry Nokia Samsung LG Sony HTC Motorola Google Nexus Pixel OnePlus Oppo Vivo Xiaomi Huawei ZTE Alcatel Kyocera Panasonic Sharp Fujitsu NEC Elephone Meizu Micromax Lava Intex Karbonn Spice Xolo LeEco Lenovo Acer Asus Dell HP Compaq IBM Apple Macintosh MacBook iMac iPad iPod iTunes App Store Amazon Kindle Fire TV Echo Dots Echos Alexa Siri Cortana Bixby Assistant OK Google Maps Waze Uber Lyft Ola GrabTaxi Hailo Mytaxi Curb Flywheel Juno Easy Taxi Gett Sidecar BlaBlaCar Car2go Zipcar Enterprise Rent-A-Car Avis Budget Hertz Thrifty Dollar Sixt National Alamo Payless Advantage Europcar Auto Europe Expedia

Progeny Achievements

Justify’s impact lives on through the impressive accomplishments of his descendants. For example, Arabian Lion recently triumphed in the prestigious Woody Stephens Stakes, demonstrating the incredible talent and speed that runs in their family. This win confirmed Justify’s ability to produce top-notch racehorses capable of excelling on some of horse racing’s biggest stages.

Another standout is Aspen Grove, who showcased their inherited excellence by securing a remarkable victory at the Belmont Oaks. This win not only shows off the versatility of Justify’s offspring but also solidifies his reputation as a sire who can produce winners across different distances and surfaces.

These victories are more than just numbers; they represent a continuation of Justify’s competitive spirit and determination to succeed against all odds. Through his descendants, he remains an icon of resilience and excellence within the horse racing world.

With each new success from his progeny, Justify’s legacy grows stronger, resonating through time with every powerful stride towards victory. It serves as a reminder that greatness isn’t limited to one individual but can be carried forward by future generations who uphold the standard set by their legendary ancestor.


1. What were the key races that Justify won on his path to winning the Triple Crown?

In 2018, Justify raced to victory in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, clinching the prestigious Triple Crown title.

2. How did Justify's breeding and ownership contribute to his success on the racetrack?

Justify comes from a long line of prestigious ancestors and is owned by WinStar Farm and China Horse Club, who have provided him with top-notch training that has helped him achieve great success in his racing career.

3. What was the controversy surrounding Justify's failed drug test after his retirement?

The drama about Justify's drug test failure after he retired started when it came out that he had tested positive for a banned substance after winning the Santa Anita Derby in 2018. This made people doubt if his Triple Crown win was fair and honest.

4. How did Justify's legal battles impact his reputation as a Triple Crown winner?

Justify faced legal challenges after he retired, which damaged his image as a Triple Crown champion. This led to doubts about the fairness of his wins and made people question his legacy in the horse racing community.

5. What is Justify's current status in terms of his stud career and breeding rights?

Justify is doing really well as a stud, making lots of money from breeding and still having babies that could be great at horse racing.

6. How has Justify's legacy been affected by the events following his retirement?

The drug test scandal and legal battles that occurred after Justify retired have stained his legacy, casting a shadow over his Triple Crown victory. These events also raise doubts about the honesty of his racing career.